Hyde on Rutschman: "He's come here and he's not been afraid"

SARASOTA, Fla. - Adley Rutschman took batting practice this morning on Field 3 at the Ed Smith Stadium complex, his audience including Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias and manager Brandon Hyde, and he threatened to bust a few windows in the homes beyond the right field fence.

Across the street. Easily within his reach.

Rutschman, taking his swings from both sides of the plate, also launched a ball over the batters' eye while Elias and Hyde stood behind the cage.

"He's fun to watch hit," Hyde said. "I just like the way he swings the bat from both sides of the plate. He's got huge power. I love his setup. I think he's got a chance to hit for average and power. A real simple swing, very strong and the ball flies off his bat. He's fun to watch in BP, for sure.

The work behind the plate and presence in the clubhouse also have impressed. How Rutschman interacts with the pitchers, exuding confidence without coming across as annoyingly cocky.

Rutschman-From-Box-Delmarva-sidebar.jpg"He's come here and he's not been afraid," Hyde said. "He's vocal, he's creating good relationships with guys. I know the guys really like him and they like throwing to him. He's communicating really well for a guy in his first big league camp who's never really played a full season. And he's come here like he belongs. He's just done everything really well, from his defensive work to his communication to how he's swinging the bat in BP. It's been fantastic.

"He's just got a really good personality, so it's real. There's no fake. He's not doing anything for showboating reasons. He cares, he wants to get better and I think the guys that have thrown to him - I've talked to a couple - have really been impressed with his feedback to them at the end of a side session. He sees the game really well. He's pretty polished."

Hyde hasn't come up with a set figure of exhibition games for Rutschman before he's reassigned to minor league camp.

"Not really, no," Hyde said. "He's going to get some at-bats, he's going to get some innings back there, but it's not going to be a ton."

Richie Martin worked out at third base on the Camden Yards replica field and Hanser Alberto fielded grounders at shortstop.

Most of Alberto's professional starts have come at short, but he didn't play the position last season. He could back up José Iglesias this season, or at least provide another option for Hyde.

"The more positions Hanser can play, the better," Hyde said. "He's got a lot of shortstop experience in his career. We're moving him around a little bit and want to make sure that we're getting him reps at all three spots, so that's why you saw him out there today, just to kind of get back acclimated to the shortstop position and we're going to continue doing that."

Ryan Mountcastle, who had been working with the outfielders, moved to first base today and was smooth fielding ground balls and making throws to second base.

"I watched him do the outfield stuff yesterday and watched him at first base today," Hyde said. "He just looks more comfortable in everything he's doing. He's obviously put a lot of work in. He's physically stronger. He's done a lot of things. You can tell he's worked hard this offseason and that the first base transition is a lot easier than it was last spring training. And he ran good in the outfield yesterday, so really happy with how he came in and ready to compete this spring."

Trey Mancini is fully recovered from the flu and participated in every drill, including his batting practice rounds.

Chris Davis left camp this morning after coming down with the same illness.

"Not feeling well this morning," Hyde said. "Hopefully, it's not too long. But the thing's kind of going around a little bit and he didn't feel well, and so we got him checked out and sent him back."

DJ Stewart, who's recovering from ankle surgery in October, hit in the cage.

"He's still in his progressions, so it's a little bit more every day," Hyde said. "He's taking batting practice now. I think he's doing some light running stuff. Just got to ramp him up, so not really sure when. I'd think if everything goes well, sometime the first or second week in March he could possibly be game ready, but that's still a long ways away."

Stewart wasn't expected to be ready for opening day, but the club won't rule him out.

"We'll wait and see how he responds on a daily basis and make a decision later in March," Hyde said, "but I know that he's doing well in his progress and then we'll wait and see."

Hyde also is waiting until Thursday to announce his starter for Saturday's exhibition opener against the Braves in North Port.

Note: The Orioles rearranged their utility competition again today by claiming Andrew Velazquez, 25, off waivers from the Indians and designating Richard Ureña for assignment. The Indians designated Velazquez five days ago.

Velazquez is 5-for-33 in parts of the last two seasons with the Rays and Indians. He's played third base, shortstop, second base and all three outfield positions in the majors.

The Diamondbacks selected Velazquez in the seventh round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft and traded him to the Rays two years later in a deal involving pitcher Jeremy Hellickson. The Indians acquired him in July 2019 for international signing bonus money.

The Orioles claimed Ureña off waivers from the Blue Jays on Jan. 10.

The camp roster will grow to 69 players if Ureña clears waivers and stays in the organization.

Elias-and-Hyde-Cage-ST-tall.jpgGeneral manager Mike Elias and manager Brandon Hyde watch Orioles batting practice.

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